back to article UK libraries dumped 11% of computers since 2010-11... everybody has one anyway, right?

Almost 4,000 computers have been cut from public libraries in England since 2010, with some 680 internet-connected machines lost in the past year. The figures, collated from Parliamentary information sources by UK Labour's shadow digital and culture team and published by Huffington Post, show the extent of budget cuts on local …

  1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge


    Memo 1:

    We need libraries to access government e-services on e-internet in e-gds e-bah-gum

    Memo 2:

    Dear grey haired local volunteer librarian

    You are now responsible for securing your computers against GDPR, CP, N Korean Cyber Ninjas, secret KGB plots to undermine the election for the allotments sub-committee and dealing with mad locals who write to the council about microwaves from the computers causing autism.

    You could contract cap-gemini-capita-oracle-beelzebub to do this, or just get rid of the computers and go back to large print mills&boon

    1. smudge
      Black Helicopters

      Re: Understandable

      PS Please install this software from our exclusive supplier in Cheltenham.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      large print mills&boon

      a.k.a. porn. The braille versions are amazing.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: large print mills&boon

        I would google braille porn - but I'm at work.....

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: large print mills&boon

          To be fair you don't want to get fingered for that.

        2. BebopWeBop

          Re: large print mills&boon

          Not being at work, I did it for you - fascinating!

      2. Mr Booth

        Re: large print mills&boon

        Actually the braille Mills and Boon is not that great, depending on the spacing (single or double) siding (once again, single or double sided) and whether the text is contracted level 1, or level 2, or uncontracted you can be "fingering" your way through a volume about 20 times the weight of the paperback.

        Hence why I always laugh when I see the braille King James bible in The Book of Eli. We have a KJ bible in braille in our library and it is not something you can carry in your hand, or even on your back if you were so inclined.

        What you want is to go after the thermoform biology textbooks, these have all the tactile diagrams you will ever need to satisfy your need for the personal "touch".

      3. Shadow Systems

        Re: large print mills&boon

        A joke among the blind goes as follows:

        When your partner shaves their pubes down to stubble, what does the stubble read in Braille?

        "Start here!"


  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Notice in library (where computer used to be)

    This Library is no longer providing internet access or computer services.

    To complain please visit

    6 Months later library says "we removed the computers and have received no complaints so the service must not have been needed"

  3. johnB

    What support?

    "While 98 per cent of Universal Credit claimants make their claim online there is support for people who need extra help. Staff are on hand to help people to claim and we can give support over the phone or through a home visit where needed." ®

    Not up here in the NE of England it isn't. Every week we get new UC claimants without IT skills referred to us by the JobCentre. The dialog seems to be:

    "Fill in this 28 screen UC application & we'll consider your claim";

    "But I don't have a computer & have never used one";

    "Go to the library, they'll sort you out. In the meantime until the claim is completed & approved there's a food bank you might want to visit".

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: What support?

      Perhaps the government believes strongly in evolution ?

      Just gradually up the complexity of any forms required to get food and we will eventually (and with a certain amount of natural wastage) evolve a race of super inteligent northerners.

      Then we can all go and eat those organic Waitrose fed eloi

    2. Captain Scarlet

      Re: What support?

      Are your libraries run by volunteers yet, if not that will be the next step.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: What support?

        the next BIG step will be a "sharing community", i.e. those that go hungry, jobless, and homeless, will be encouraged to seek "community peer support" cause sharin' is carin', etc.

        Net result? Plenty" Those that survive, prove the point (savings CAN be made, as demonstrated). And then, the main result is SAVINGS TO THE SYSTEM (and bonus to the genius

        And don't tell me I'm ranting. BEOND my ranting look at the "developments" in the NHS "support", virtual GP visits (still in the pipeline, coming your way soooon), outsourcing "non-urgent medical advice" - first to non-999, now to - pharmacies. And where to put them pesky non-dying ex-patients? Guessed right! - "community based support"!

        I expect, sooner or later, to have some elements of public education outsourced too. After all, you can teach your 4-year-old alphabet and counting to 10, right? And then, teaching geography should be as easy (given they teach them NONE up to year 7 inclusive).

        I don't know about armed forces, given the "armed" bit in plebs hands. But then, what's that droning sound round the corner, eh? :(

        What's left after that? Ah, "public" transport...

    3. Ronome

      Re: What support?

      All sounds good till the tech goes tits up. I am on the UC and i can see it going that way.

      1. Danny 14

        Re: What support?

        25% of saturday and sunday staff at our city library are volunteers.

        1. Trilkhai

          Re: What support?

          A pretty large percentage of my library's staff at this point are volunteers (including those who sell donated books/media in a side room to drum up a little extra money for the library), plus it's closed on Sunday and often only open until early afternoon on Saturday. Definitely not the well-funded library system we had when I was growing up here...

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: What support?

            It does make one wonder how many of the "missing" library computers relate to now non-existent libraries as opposed to being actively removed from libraries.

            As for GDPR compliance and hacking protection, the librarians, paid or voluntary don't do that. The PCs are usually installed an managed by the local or county council IT department.

  4. fishman


    It would be interesting to find out what the peak usage rates are for the computers. Since 2010 more people have internet at home, and more people have smartphones (so they only need wifi at the library). If there are unused computers during the busiest times it would be hard to justify not downsizing as the equipment ages out.

    1. button pusher

      Re: Problem?

      Admittedly it's a while since I visited a branch library but the PCs were all used by truants playing computer games (loudly). Conversely my main library allows access to online texts/media/reservations via the net.

    2. Gene Cash Silver badge

      Re: Problem?

      > Since 2010 more people have internet at home

      And there's still a lot of people that don't have a home, which is what this is trying to address.

    3. katrinab Silver badge

      Re: Problem?

      "Since 2010 more people have internet at home"

      Also, more people don't have a home.

  5. RyokuMas

    Lies, damn lies and...

    "Almost 4,000 computers have been cut from public libraries in England since 2010"

    Does that include the libraries that have flat-out closed thanks to "austerity"?

    1. Captain Scarlet

      Re: Lies, damn lies and...

      I was wondering that

    2. Jedit Silver badge

      Re: Lies, damn lies and...

      Honestly, I doubt it. Too many branch libraries have closed for it to be only an 11% drop in computers, unless those computers were relocated to the remaining branches.

      Aberdeen City Council just had to make plans to close every one of its branch libraries due to the sheer level of austerity cuts they were facing. They changed the plan, but I don't know what they cut instead.

  6. Rich 11 Silver badge

    It's almost like...

    ...the government looked at every possible risk which could threaten a solid and reliable rollout of UC to everyone's satisfaction, then set in motion plans which would ensure that every risk manifested in reality.

    1. Chris G

      Re: It's almost like...

      Hmm! Sounds like most goverments to me.

      1. Someone Else Silver badge

        Re: It's almost like...

        No, not most governments, but certainly the current Left-Pondian one...

    2. Shadow Systems

      Re: It's almost like...

      To err is Human. To really fuck things up takes Managers.

  7. TimR

    A Welsh Grand Slam And a 11% increase in library computers...! [Cue down votes from English & Irish rugby supporters. And a hat tip to Scotland for such a great comeback]

    Seriously, "A statement from the Department for Work and Pensions argued that ... all job centres had free Wi-Fi." Great news for the UC claimants that had to sell their laptops to bridge the 6+ week wait

    1. Ronome

      5 weeks having come off ESA passed that medical just can't the pass medical to get a job go figure.

      1. TimR


        I know someone who was medically retired from an office based Civil Service job and yet passed the subsequent ESA "medical" (if that's what you can call it) as fit to work

        As you say "go figure"

    2. MyffyW Silver badge

      "all job centres had free Wi-Fi."

      Cool. Just need to offer artisan-crafted granola bars and flat whites and they'll be indistinguishable from any franchised coffee house.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        That's an unfair stereotype.

        Not all job centers are full of rich lazy graduates posing with their macbooks "working" on their screenpaly/art/startup project while living with their parents.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Ever thought that maybe you see more Macbooks in coffee shops because they are actually more portable and have better battery life than most of the others out there? I often see non Apple laptops in Starbucks now but they are normally big, chunky things and tied to a wall socket, although i would be scared to death of using a Windows 10 device without AC incase Windows updates decided it knows best.

          It really is only in the last few years that other manufacturers have got close to Apple in terms of portability and battery life.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Not that Jobsworth Security would let you in without an appointment to use it.

  8. TRT

    Presumably the 89% left since 2010/11...

    Are not the same ones. The same old hardware running the same old OS as they were in 2010/2011?

    1. Chris_C

      Re: Presumably the 89% left since 2010/11...

      Of course they are. Where do you think they got the money for new ones?

      I've just pulled out 5 PCs from a school that I put in when I started - a decade ago. And they weren't new then.

  9. Roger Greenwood

    There are more vulnerable than you think

    We employ several who don't have an email address, no computer, no smartphone. Perfectly upstanding members of society who graft and pay their taxes. Up until a few years ago the same group had no bank account either (we insisted eventually). In many ways they fall into the vulnerable group as well, or they certainly will when they retire, they just aren't on the radar yet.

    1. Chris G

      Re: There are more vulnerable than you think

      My father passed away at the age of 92 three years ago. The bank, hospital, social services were all appalled that he had no access to the internet. When he would tell them he had no intention of buying a pc or learning how tuse one they would roll their eyes and say surely a family member or neighbour could helpyou learn.Nobody listening t what he wanted only interested in what they wanted. So stuff the UC online government should be for the people not the other way round.

    2. Jay Lenovo

      Re: There are more vulnerable than you think

      Bank accounts, paying taxes, and internet. The current standard for active and lawful citizenship.

      Avoid the internet at your own risk Luddites.

      When the US Lifeline Program (Obamaphone) added internet to the essential services, many seemed to miss the congressional concession that living in the country without modern technology is considered quite perilous.

      Even the technologically and government adverse Amish, concede they must use phones/internet (cannot own), have bank accounts, and pay taxes.

      1. FrozenShamrock

        Re: There are more vulnerable than you think

        Paying taxes is the only one of the three items you list that is really needed. I agree having a bank account and using the internet are good ideas and I do both. However, government should be making it easy for the governed to access, contact, use, etc government. In democracies it is supposed to be government of, by and FOR the people. I am not anti-government; but, democratic governments need to remember they exist to serve the governed. I don't want to live in a country where it is the other way around.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I’ve got an iMac

    Sculpture, alter or computer. You decide.

  11. cantankerous swineherd

    computers. just say no.

  12. JaitcH

    British Government Library Plans A Disgrace

    I travel to many countries in my work and of them the UK Government is a disgrace.

    In Canada, libraries are really community centres where, in the morning, Seniors can read the daily newspapers, children's groups allow pre-kindergarten to mix and parents to enjoy facilities.

    In the afternoons school children gather to do their homework, helping each other, until their parents return home. Later in the evening social groups gather and senior students do their studies.

    The main library in Toronto is crowded until 21.00H when security guards practically have to carry the students out for closing. On weekends, with slightly shortened hours, are equally busy.

    After the Americans were defeated in VietNam, the reunification government literally padlocked the libraries and it wasn't until 25-30 years later libraries were re-opened. These days they are busy with free WiFi and access to formerly banned information resources.

    The library in Princes Risborough, Buckinghamshire, where my parents reside, it is hard to find out when the library is actually open. And it's facilities are minimal.


    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: British Government Library Plans A Disgrace

      "The library in Princes Risborough, Buckinghamshire, where my parents reside, it is hard to find out when the library is actually open. And it's facilities are minimal."

      Maybe it's a regional or local council spending thing. Our main library and the local branch library is pretty much as you describe (but not open till 9pm, that's for sure!)

  13. Olivier2553

    Not exactly the same but...

    At my university, most department closed or drastically reduced the number of computers freely available for everybody, but the library that was doted with a bunch of new machines (that was part of the renovation after the flood in 2011).

  14. jonnyu1

    The reality?

    As someone who managed public IT in a UK public library service until I retired (early) a couple of years ago, IMO the realities are very complex...

    First question - what is your personal expectation of a public 'library,? What is that expectation of every central and local government body and agency to provide free support services fro them for which they pay nothing outside general taxation? Do these expectations match? 30+ years ago, the former editor of the Guardian, wrote an article quoting a Director of Social Services stating that a certain library was his biggest day care centre. Currently libraries are being touted as social centres to replace the disappearing pubs. All things to all people?

    Since the mass introduction of Lottery funded public library IT around the Millennium, there has seldom been funding for regular refresh - it certainly doesn't keep up with market development.

    If you close libraries, you generally lose the public IT within it - unless that is relocated, and that may not then be in a convenient place for users.

    You will probably have queuing in peak times and lots of spare capacity at quiet times - if you only have one library open on a Sunday in an urban area, it will be saturated with demand for IT.

    If you reduce library hours, you reduce access to the IT, unless you keep the libraries open (questionable term) in Self-Service libraries when the libraries are unstaffed, paid or volunteer.

    How IT Savvy do you expect staff to be - with the hardware, software, online applications and services, whatever - alongside their other varied duties? Books (remember them?) management, user management, children's activities, etc.etc. Possibly loan tools and lawnmowers in future. How much do you pay them (if anything). How well do you train them? How well do you regard them?

    The greater profusion of personal devices - even for those on low incomes - changed the demand on the service. Public WiFi - inside and outside the libraries changed the balance, and changed the game. Can you print from your personal device in your library?. Are library management looking at the metrics (if they have any) and pro-actively adjusting the services?

    I could go on...

    You get what you pay for, and as they say with politics, you get the leaders you deserve.

  15. steviebuk Silver badge

    The film...

    ...I, Daniel Blake is coming true.

    1. Bond007

      Re: The film...

      The film "I, Daniel Blake" isn't 'coming' true, it IS true, and HAS been for years!

  16. Jove Bronze badge

    Statistics ...

    Another set of numbers being played for the agenda rather than to reveal anything new of value.

    A growing number of us have internet access from home and work, but there is no mention of how many people now actually attend public libraries any more.

    Further more, why would you use a device that you know you will be monitored and records retained my public-sector officials?

    1. Trilkhai

      Re: Statistics ...

      A hell of a lot of people either don't have homes, can't afford Internet service, and/or don't have jobs that involve available Internet access. In the US, at least, libraries are both heavily used by them, as well as quite well-used by a lot of people since we can check out movies, audiobooks, etc. and many older adults in particular prefer to read novels on paper.

      As for why someone would used a monitored device: as the article pointed out, people often go online via library computers because it's their only way to access the websites they have to use in order to obtain or keep government benefits.

      1. Jove Bronze badge

        Re: Statistics ...

        Childish drivel.

        I can not speak for the US, but there is less demand for library services no that internet access is more widely available.

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